FORGOTTEN man Matt Kilgallon has a host of Championship clubs interested in ending his Sunderland nightmare – but the defender’s agent is adamant he “won’t be rushed” into a decision on his future.
Centre-back Kilgallon, a former England Under-21 international, has been frozen out at the Stadium of Light for the last 18 months and has been told he has no future at the club under Steve Bruce. After failing to drum up interest in a permanent switch over the summer, both parties are angling for a temporary move before the emergency loan window closes on November 24 – with Birmingham City one of several Championship clubs to have registered an interest.
But The Journal understands that none of his second tier suitors are willing to pay the proportion of his wages that the Black Cats are asking for – leaving representative Paul Masterton to admit to “slow progress” on finding him a new club.
Kilgallon and Nyron Nosworthy are both available on loan and it is a measure of how far the duo have fallen down the pecking order that young defender Louis Laing was preferred as defensive cover after the recent internal suspension of Titus Bramble.
Kilgallon was a £1million signing in January last year but went out to Middlesbrough and Doncaster Rovers on loan last season. Rovers – under the tutelage of Dean Saunders – are not one of the clubs bidding to re-sign him. “There are a couple of clubs that have been interested in Matt,” he told The Journal.
“I think most of the clubs are talking about a loan as they want to look at him first. There are things going on but it is going slowly at the moment.
“For Matt it’s about getting the right club for him, where he will play regularly and it will suit him. If it takes another month or so, so be it.”
Bruce had been hoping to see Kilgallon depart to raise funds for his summer spending spree, but initial interest from Chris Hughton was not turned into a firm offer – partly because of Birmingham’s financial situation.
The 27-year-old is contracted to Sunderland until 2013, but there seems to be no way back for him on Wearside.
Sunderland beat off Newcastle and Burnley to sign the defender over a year ago, but the acquisition of players like Wes Brown and John O’Shea means he is surplus to requirements.
“It doesn’t look like there’s any chance for him at Sunderland, but you never know, football is a funny game,” Masterton admitted.
Meanwhile, the Black Cats boss is considering whether to give Ji Dong-won his first Premier League start at the Emirates on Sunday.
Bruce was in South Korea to witness Ji lead the line for his country in their World Cup 2014 qualifier against the United Arab Emirates and delivered a glowing report on the striker’s performance.
While that is to be expected of a manager invited to Suwon as part of Sunderland’s attempts to expand their global brand, the forward is a compelling option with Nicklas Bendtner ineligible against his parent club.
Fellow striker Connor Wickham remains a work in progress and is yet to convince Bruce that he is ready to start Premier League games – which leaves Ji, who has been impressive in training since his summer switch from Chunnom Dragons, in pole position to deputise for Bendtner.
“The Korean fans really got behind their team and Ji is clearly a crowd favourite,” Bruce told the club website.
“He looked lively and worked hard for the team, which stands him in good stead for Sunday’s game against Arsenal.”
Another option is to go with Stéphane Sessègnon as a lone striker – although assistant boss Eric Black admits to disappointment at the way the Benin international has performed in a 4-4-1-1 system.
“It hasn’t worked as we would have liked – maybe he lost a bit of form or confidence, maybe the team didn’t gel as we would have hoped but, on all indicators, his stats were down from where they were last season,” he said.